By LARRY M. JONES
In the wake of the Newtown, Conn., tragedy there has been no aspect of this horrific insanity that has not been examined, debated and argued. Not unlike our overall polarized society, opinions are greatly divided on both cause and remedy of this gun-related tragedy.
A few years back, ex-White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel was quoted as saying, “Let no serious crisis go to waste.” While he may have been among the first to actually say it, this tactic has been used for years by politicians to quickly ram through contentious legislation. Seeing such a golden opportunity, President Obama quickly jumped into Air Force One and hurried to Connecticut to deliver a gut-wrenching message of condolence to the grieving survivors.
For the president, along with his pro-government followers, the obvious solution is more gun control. The “gun” is probably the most vilified, demonized and regulated object in the world. For many in our populace who are unfamiliar with firearms, they see them as evil instruments of destruction, possessing no value to the average citizen. Many would like to see firearms in the hands of civilians completely outlawed, with the Second Amendment stripped from our Bill of Rights. I do not share this sentiment.
While firearms possess the capability to inflict great harm, many other things are equally very dangerous. One of the most notable is the automobile. Total numbers of deaths attributed to each are comparable, but I’ve read that if suicide deaths are not included, the automobile is far more deadly. The gun becomes an easy villain because it is less vital to the daily lives of many Americans. A gun alone is no more dangerous than any other inanimate object such as a pencil. Placed in the wrong hands, it becomes a disaster waiting to happen.
I have seen it suggested in various forums that perhaps we are focusing on the wrong aspect of the gun-control debate. Instead of putting the firearm in the crosshairs, let’s look at the people who are using them. A greatly disproportionate number of those involved in the mass shootings of recent times have had a history of mental illness. Almost without exception, most have been on mind-controlling prescription medications. Many of those who would have been institutionalized decades ago are now placed on medication and returned to mainstream society. I would tend to believe that as funding for mental health facilities and treatment has been slashed, the incidence of such senseless violence has increased dramatically.
Although I have never been fond of the military M-16 look-alike assault weapons, to blame such weapons for the recent tragedy is asinine. We have to look no farther than our neighbor to the south, Mexico, and see how well that nation’s strict gun control curbs gun related violence. In a similar vein, on the same day as the Connecticut shooting, 22 students and one teacher were violently stabbed and slashed in a Chinese school, even though there was little media attention here.
Another political witch hunt demonizing guns is not the answer to controlling the propensity for violent behavior in today’s society. While many would not agree, I believe that we would be better served to focus on which individuals are qualified to own firearms rather than which firearms millions of other law abiding citizens may or may not own.
Larry M. Jones is a retired Navy commander and aviator who raises cattle and hay in the Brock/Lazy Bend part of Parker County. Direct comments to firstname.lastname@example.org.